Federal Bureaucracy Stifles Smaller, Safer Nuclear Power

An American nuclear power manufacturer has applied for federal approval of a smaller, safer nuclear power plant design, but the company faces at least 10 years of federal inertia before it build its state-of-the-art reactors. By then, state-of-the-art may no longer be state-of-the-art.

NuScale Power of Portland, Oregon, submitted a design for a 50-megawatt modular reactor that could be mass produced and cut the massive design and construction costs of larger reactors. The reactors would use much less uranium than existing nuclear power plants, reducing the already slim risk of radiation leakage in the event of an accident.

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) will now study the design, but NRC approval – if granted at all – is expected to take at least three years. NRC approval would be merely the first step in the long process for government approval and reactor construction. NuScale hopes to finally bring its reactor design online in 2026.

Nuclear power emits no carbon dioxide or traditional air pollutants. Unlike wind and solar power, nuclear power can operate around the clock and is not dependent on locations with abundant sunshine or consistently strong winds. For people concerned about air pollution and global warming, nuclear power is the most economical and effective means of producing emissions-free electricity.

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